‘The Fruit of Our Labor – Afghan Perspectives in Film’

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Building Local Capacity – Amplifying Afghan VoicesThe Fruit of Our Labor

These films were made by Afghans during an intensive 5-week training in documentary production provided by Community Supported Film.  After three weeks of rigorous exercises, each student developed and produced a character driven short documentary.  For many of the trainees, this is their directorial debut as a documentary filmmaker.

The Fruit of Our Labor: Afghan Perspectives in Film

Screen&Discuss Themes for Consideration:

Here are some suggestions for ways to use the films in relation to specific issues:


‘L’ is for Light, ‘D’ is for Darkness

Original: 12:20 min.  (Click here for Excerpt: 3:55 min.)

Direction and Camera by Hasibullah Asmati
Editing by Hamed Alizada
Sound and Additional Camera by Zarah Sadat

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After the refugees returned, post-Taliban, there was no girl’s school in the village. Waseema took things into her own hands, organizing the women, pressuring the resistant men, and setting up ‘classrooms’ in an abandoned, roofless, building on the outskirts of the village. The sounds of the girls calling out their lessons doesn’t disturb anyone – except for those who won’t follow their Mullah’s advice and allow their daughters and sisters to attend.

Hasibullah Asmati’s family is from Takhar and he lives in Kabul. He worked as a production assistant on the documentary Addicted in Afghanistan, and as a freelance production assistant with the Takhar province TV channel. Hasib is currently working as a freelance videographer.


Searching for a Path

Original: 13 min. (Click here for Excerpt: 2:53 min.)
Direction, Camera and Sound by Reza Sahel
Editing by Rahmatulah Jafari

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The streets of Kabul are clogged with pushcart vendors of every sort. After the fall of the Taliban, the vendors were left in peace, as there were few cars on the streets. Now they are beaten by the police and chased from corner to corner – unless they pay a bribe. Fruit selling is the product of choice in the fall season. In the summer they rot too quickly in the 105˚ heat. It’s not a profitable living, but in a country with 40% unemployment, the choices are slim.Will these vendors’ children still be facing the same limited opportunities when they seek employment? 13 min.

Reza Sahel is from Ghazni province and lives in Kabul. He works as a freelance photo-journalist with BBC online and also works as a cameraman for Nagar TV on spot and feature news. Reza is a multimedia trainer for NAI in cooperation with Internews, and is a founding member of Third Eye Photography.



Hands of Health

Original: 12 min. (Click here for Excerpt: 2:54 min.)
Direction, Camera and Sound by Zahra Sadat
Editing by Jawed Taiman
Additional Sound by Hasibullah Asmaty

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The maternity clinic has been built but there are no doctors and no medical equipment. Who’s to blame, the Ministry of Health or the Men’s Development Council? The Women’s Council handed over their National Solidarity Program funds to the men when they agreed to build a maternity clinic. But with it still not open pregnant woman like Farida continue to make the long trip to Kabul to get medicine and medical advice, including birth control. After ten kids, the father thinks it might be time to stop having children – but says it’s in the hands of God. 14 min.

Zahra Sadat is from Bamyan province and lives in Kabul. Zahra works as a freelance journalist for Jadid Media online and in multi-media production. She founded and directs the Open Society Organization and volunteers with Afghan Youth for Peace.


The Road Above

Original: 6 min. (Click here for Excerpt: 2:28 min.)
Direction and Camera by Aqeela Rezai
Additional Camera by Reza Sahel and Baqir Tawakoli
Editing by Jawed Taiman
Sound by Reza Sahel

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It is estimated that out of 28 million Afghans, 1 million are addicted to heroin. Mona tried once to get her husband into treatment, but he escaped and she hasn’t seen him since. Now she works street construction, but does the manual labor wearing a burqa to protect the honor of her family. 6 min.

Aqeela Rezai stars in Iranian director Samira Makhmalbaf’s film Five in the Afternoon and appears in many other TV dramas. Since 2009 she has worked part time for the Independent Election Commission. She previously produced and appeared in a documentary on the challenges faced by actresses in Afghanistan.



Knocking on Time’s Door

Original: 5 min. (Click here for Excerpt: 1:23 min.)
Direction, Camera and Sound by Ahmad Wahid Zaman
Editing by Hamed Alizada
Additional Sound by Majid Zarand

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A former Mujahedeen fighter returns to teach at the village school where his father taught. He lives what he teaches: that each of us is responsible to use the time we are given wisely. He’s leading the village development council and trying to build a new school. For many fighters, giving up their gun meant giving up an income and a position of power and respect. Can Afghan government initiatives, like the National Solidarity Program, provide employment and leadership opportunities for men that instill similar pride in the rebuilding of their communities? 6 min.

Ahmad Wahid Zaman, from Panjshir province and living in Kabul, trained as an agriculturalist. He works as a journalist, producer, and director of long-form news reports, previously at Ariana TV and now at Bakhtar TV.


Bearing the Weight

Original: 13 min. (Click here for Excerpt: 3:32 min.)
Direction and Camera by Mona Haidari
Editing by Hamid Arshia
Sound by Sayed Qasem Hossaini

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Not long after marrying at twenty-one, Shafiqa lost her husband, her newly born daughter, and her leg in a rocket attack. The war in Afghanistan has left some 700,000 disabled. Many – especially disabled women and children – are hidden from view, trapped by their culture. Shafiqa overcame the “paralysis of her soul” and found a way to take care of herself, her two sons, and her community. 13 min.

Mona Haidari, is from Wardack and lives in Kabul. The focus of her works has shifted from painting, to photography, to documentary filmmaking. She is the assistant producer of Focus Reports, a program on social issues, for Negah TV. Mona also participated in cinéma vérité training with Atelier Varan.


Water Ways

Original: 9 min. (Click here for Excerpt: 2:08 min.)

Direction and Camera by Majeed Zarand
Additional Camera and Editing by Jawed Taiman
Sound by Majeed Zarand and Ahmad Wahid Zaman

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Neighboring villages – one with access to water and one without – offer very different prospects to their residents. The farmers without water are stuck; unable to feed their families, they turn to work as day laborers. However, working a day job keeps them from solving their water problems. Down the road, villagers have easier access to water and have used assistance from the Afghan government’s National Solidarity Program to improve their lives. Unfortunately, tensions could arise between these villages over access to water. 11 min.

Abdul Majeed Zarand, lives in Ghazni and works in Wardack province. He is a reporter for the Afghan War Reporters Agency (AWRA) and Afghan Daily Times. A poet and novelist, Abdul has also volunteered as a local school teacher for the last 7 years.


Beyond Fatigue

Original: 9 min. (Click here for Excerpt: 2:35 min.)
Direction, Camera and Sound by Baqir Tawakoli
Editing by Hamid Arshia
Production Assistance and Additional Sound by Reza Sahel

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In most corners of the world, a woman’s work is never done. In Beyond Fatigue an Afghan woman walks miles to help her sick mother-in-law and is responsible for the next generation of young minds as she teaches them the language and lessons of the Quran.

In between she works at the vocational training center where she hopes to get a loan to buy her own sewing machine.

Baqir Tawakoli lives and works in Bamyan province. He is a poet and short story writer, and has previous training in photography. Baqir works and volunteers with economic and social development agencies, and was head of his village’s Community Development Council.


Treasure Trove

Original: 11 min. (Click here for Excerpt: 1:56 min.)
Direction, Camera and Sound by Fakhria Ibrahimi
Editing by Rahmatullah Jafari

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From the inside of a bakery, an unusual view of the daily lives of Afghan women is revealed – unveiled and uninhibited.

Fakhria Ibrahimi lives in Kabul and is from Wardack province. She has worked on community-based documentary photography projects in Sari Pul province. Fakhria is also a Kabul-based representative for the Funder’s Network for Afghan Women.



Death to the Camera

Original: 20 min. (Click here for Excerpt: 1 min.)
Direction and Camera by Sayed Qasem Hossaini
Editing by Hamed Alizada
Sound by Mona Haidari

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A camera moves among woman working their last day on a job site. As they joke and fight – accusing each other of being prostitutes, liars, and racists – the mood repeatedly shifts between belly laughs and rage. The women are left waiting for hours for their pay by the charity that administers the cash-for-work program. As they wait, they consider what debts they’ll pay off, what food they’ll buy, and how they’ll stay warm during the approaching winter. There is lively discussion about what happens to all the aid that never reaches them, and whether Karzai is a crook or a servant of the people.

Is the camera revealing anything truthful, or simply inciting these women to present what they think ‘the other’ wants to hear – or what might get them something from the world on the other side of the camera? Who is on the other side of that camera anyway?

Sayed Qasem Hossaini grew up in Sari Pul and Balk provinces and studied film at the Cinema and Fine Arts department at Kabul University. Previously he produced a short video report on carpet making, served as a sports reporter for a community newspaper, and worked as a freelance production assistant.


Presented & produced by Community Supported Film
Co-Producer: The Killid Group
© 2011 Community Supported Film